Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fusion or Confusion? Fusion Cuisine in Perspective.

First of all, apologies for not being totally forthright with my previous post. Being a food blogger is rather perilous nowadays. Not only do we have to be careful of the sensitivities of the Restaurant owner and the Chef. We also have a responsibility to our fellow bloggers, giving everybody a bad rap may bring a wave of repercussions which includes banning of photography in restaurants or just simply being bad mouthed. That is why in most food blogs, the comments on the food tend to be a little bit restrained. Maybe years of living under the benevolence if an Omnipotent and Omniscient Government has subjugated us into docility. I practice rigorous self censorship, of which I am never proud of.

Well, here goes. To me, the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio doused in mayo, was a complete disaster. I am unable to comprehend why a perfectly good cut of meat, beautifully seared and succulent must have it's beautifully natural taste obscured by some cheap MSG tinged mayonnaise? Can you ever imagine having Foie with Chilli Sauce? It just does not make sense to me. It's like getting to boink Angelina Jolie and insist that she remains clothed all the time in some Sungai Wang Trollop's attire. Reeks of some cheap obsession with polyester.

One of the passages from Thomas Keller's French Laundry Cookbook states: "Another source of pleasure in cooking is respect for food. To under-cook a lobster, and send it to a customer, and have him send it back, is not only a waste of the lobster and all those involved in it's life, it is a waste of the potential of pleasing that customer. Respect for food is a respect for life, for who we are and what we do." What a beautiful passage. To think of food as a funeral rite for the animal, an elaborate ceremony that ends up satisfying our lust for delicious food. It does put things into perspective.

I know it is hard to imagine an altruistic Wagyu Cattle which chose to sacrifice it's own life for the sake of nourishing humans after a relatively short existence in luxury compared to it's more plebeian cousins. What ever it is, a life was still sacrificed and in this case, in vain. Ditto with the Yellowtail Carpaccio. The natural taste of the fish had been obscured by the over powering garlic and they have just discovered a new way of desecrating dead oysters.

Capraccio of Hiramasa with Smoked Ikura Roe and Herbs, Sage.
At the risk of sounding like a pompous prick, this worked. Simple reason. No mayonnaise, the white stuff is light sour cream foam with lime, lightly drizzled with Oba Vinaigrette. All complementing faultlessly to the beautiful cut of Hiramasa, and never overpowering it.

I am not a purist. Two of my favourite restaurants serve French-Japanese Fusion. So, am I being a hypocritical, two faced elitist when I lambasted the food at the previous eatery? Some things have no reason to be together. Like Ibrahim Ali and Nobel Prize winners for instance. Or Expensive, beautiful cuts with ingredients that overwhelm rather than to enhance the enjoyment. The resulting gustatory nightmare can never be pleasant.

Good Fusion Cooking is the masterful and propitious blending of different ingredients and cooking techniques from different parts of the world. It is not throwing together ingredients like confetti at a wedding and hoping for the best.

Parmesan Coated Asparagus with Egg Mollet, Sage.
An obvious play on Tempura. Imagine a thin, light coat of Tempura flour, slightly seasoned with cheese. Beautifully fried till crispy and not oil sogged. A side of Truffle Sauce, thickened with semi cooked egg white with a wobbly half cooked yolk. Genius.

I love Thomas Keller's philosophy of cooking and food. The opening passage of his "French Laundry Cookbook" begins with, "When you acknowledge, as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food, only the the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving toward perfection becomes clear: To make people happy. That's what cooking is all about."

I know it is impossible to satisfy everybody, and most restaurants will take the shortcut to success by jumping into the fray and serving the same kind of crowd pleasing food (probably pleases the prepubescent teen hooked on J-pop and Manga more than their parents), "fusion" and soulless food. That is exactly the problem with Japanese food in KL. Try to name me a good Omakase joint? If my schedule allows, I will hopefully be able to make it to Sushi Dokoro Maeshima's reincarnation, Kapoh Muneharu at Federal Hotel soon. I hope I will be able spin a happier post from the experience.


J said...

It's a thin line where we tread - between the essential truth and the unnecessarily harsh comments of a restaurant/ food.

Personally, I definitely wouldn't look to ever desecrate good foie with chili sauce (although now you have made me curious) but on another note, I do protest! - Angelina is a goddess and she can wear anything (even a Sg Wang trollop's attire) and still look HOT.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

well its ur blog, so they can sod off if they think they are being smart alec for putting chilli on foie haha. i know the wagyu with loads of mayo.

fatboybakes said...

AIYA, i love the word trollop, but could never find a way to use it in a post. bittersweet la, your post. makes me laugh and depressed all in one go...damn youcom

Michelle Chin said...

i have this feeling that you are obsessed with sage and cilantro!

Paranoid Android said...

@J: probably a bad analogy. She is almost Iconic.

@Joe: Lol. I wished I could say sod off to more people in my life. :D

@FBB: Just don't use that word on me.

@Michelle: How astute. Perhaps you could suggest another place in KL that serves decent Japanese inspired Carpaccio?

minchow said...

Angelina in Sg Wang trollop's attire... hahaha! If that doesn't describe the disastrous mish-mash of exalted and pedestrian, I don't know what does! Love the purging of the diplomatic OD!

Ciki said...

getting to boink Angelina Jolie and insist that she remains clothed all the time in some Sungai Wang Trollop's attire is DAMN KINKY OK?!! hah.. why ar? i don't geddit.

oh..oh, and just the other day i had fwah grah with chili padi :P

ayiyah just write what you want, eat what you like, screw how u want. life is about choices.. so don't let people make them for you.

agree? ;) haha

Baby Sumo said...

Wow is dining at Sage a weekly thing for you? So jealous larrr...

UnkaLeong said...

Hey...why you dissing my favourite mall? :) *imagines Angelina in SWP's 6th floor designs* Works for me :P

I wonder if the joint in Federal Hotel is open for lunch? Hmmm...

Thailand Club said...

wow back to gourmet at first wife - Sage, after some confusion few days ago :-)

Gigi said...

Definitely jealous of your Sage experiences. Next time I'm in KL I'll try to get a taste of it. Thanks for your posts, they are great. I've been using them as a yardstick for where to eat.

Paranoid Android said...

@ Min: Ha ha I know. And you have not been forgiven for going to the Ramen Joint without me. :p

@ Ciki: A bit of Anarchist are we?

@ Baby Sumo: You can do it too?

@ Unka: Fed's not open for lunch, only dinner.

@ TC: Yar lo. Somehow or another, Dai Nai is always closer to the heart.

@Gigi: Oooh. This is not an endorsement, but I found the food there to my liking. Try the lunches. They are worth the effort.

in the sea said...

True that no food is perfect for everyone. It all depends on how the chef cooks in his way to make something common be uncommon. If we have a bowl of rice and one egg for fried rice. That really tests how skillful and creative of the chef to make a nice fried rice.

Paranoid Android said...

@sky: Yes, probably our grandmothers will be the most innovative cooks. Cooking with so little things, but still dish out a good meal, beacuse of love.

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